FILE PHOTO – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivers a statement following a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Picture
By Ahmed Aboulenein and Malak Ghobrial
SHARM AL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday he was against military strikes on Iran or the Tehran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, saying there was enough turmoil in the Middle East.
In a meeting with a group of journalists, Sisi also pledged support for Saudi Arabia in its stand-off with Iran.
Asked about the prospect of attacks on Iran and Hezbollah – two days after Saudi Arabia had accused Lebanon of declaring war because of Hezbollah’s “aggressive actions”, Sisi stressed the importance of de-escalation.
“I am always against war,” Sisi said, without spelling out who might be involved in military action.
Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia called for sanctions against Hezbollah this week and accused Iran of supplying Yemen’s Houthis with missiles used to target it.
“I have said it once and I will say it again, Gulf national security is Egyptian national security. I have faith in the wise and firm leadership of Saudi Arabia,” Sisi said.
Sisi said the situation in the kingdom was “reassuring and stable” following last weekend’s arrests of 11 princes, former and current ministers, and a group of elite businessmen on corruption allegations.
They face allegations of money laundering, bribery, extortion and exploiting public office for personal gain.
Sisi stressed his backing of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, which have showered Egypt with aid ever since the general-turned-president led the military’s ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests.
Lebanon has been thrust to the centre of regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran since the Saudi-allied Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Saturday, blaming Iran and Hezbollah in his resignation speech.
Hezbollah is both a military and a political organisation that is represented in the Lebanese parliament and in the Hariri-led coalition government formed last year.